As Thyself

I’ve written previously about the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, though, like most people who write about it, I’ve focused on the “love thy neighbor” part. It occurred to me recently that there’s a lot to be mined in the second part of that commandment – to love ourselves.

In what way are we to love ourselves? We are to love ourselves in the same way we are to love our neighbors. And we are to love our neighbors in the same way that Christ loves us. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. ” [1] Therefore, we are to love ourselves the same way Christ loves us.

We are to love ourselves completely, recognizing that we are made in the image of God. I have a much easier time being kind, charitable, forgiving, and generous toward others than toward myself. We’re socialized, especially as women, to ignore our needs and to feel righteous in doing so. Having needs is seen as “selfish”.

I rent spare rooms in my house on airbnb. I put in my listing that check-in time is between 4 and 10 pm. If I can accommodate someone who wants to arrive at 3 or at 11, I usually will; travel is stressful. Someone wanted to check in between 4 and 7 am because they have stuff to do during the day and would miss the check-in window. I stuffed down my annoyance and said that they could drop their stuff off no earlier than 6 but that the room wouldn’t be ready until 4 pm. They said okay. I got up at the crack of dawn to prepare for their arrival. At 5:15 am I got a text saying they were in town and asking if they could come over early. I ignored the text. At 5:30 am they called and asked if they could come over early. I said fine, since I was already up. They didn’t show up until 6:15.

The world wouldn’t have ended if I had enforced check-in hours, and next time I will, because I love myself enough to allow myself to get a good night’s sleep. There’s a reason we’re told to put our own oxygen masks on before helping others. If we don’t care for ourselves, we won’t be able to care for others.

I’m not perfect at it yet, not even close. I still say things to myself I would never dream of saying to others or allowing others to say to my friends. But I’m getting there. I’ve given myself permission to consider my needs to be as important as the needs of others. After all, it’s a commandment.

[1] John 13:34

Trudy

Trudy is a lawyer living in the southwestern US. She has two cats who allow her to live in their apartment in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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2 Responses

  1. Dani Addante says:

    I love this so much! First, I love that you mentioned that we say certain things to ourselves that we’d never say to others. So true! When you put it that way it makes so much sense that we shouldn’t say negative things to ourselves. I’ve been struggling with this lately and your post helped me see things more clearly. Second of all, I have a hard time saying no to people, often feeling guilty if I say no. Like the example of the check-in times, I’m way too nice to people and I work around their schedules. I’ve been trying harder to say no so that I don’t become burned out and cranky. And third, I like the message to love ourselves in the phrase, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’m glad you focused on that, since people always focus on the “love your neighbor” part and neglect the rest. Great post!

  2. Jessica says:

    Appropriate for me, since I have had a years-long career in the vacation rental industry. Thus it resonates, and I am proud to say that I am learning those lessons of standing up for my own needs – even around check-in time requests! Thanks for putting your thoughts here.

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